Georgia’s Primary Plagued With Long Wait Times, Jon Ossoff Wins Democratic U.S. Senate Primary
Georgia’s secretary of state vowed to investigate after a series of mishaps including problems with new voting machines, long wait times and absentee ballots that were not received in time, that disproportionately affected minority communities.
Lengthy waits were reported in parts of Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) said the problems “in certain precincts” were “unacceptable.”
“My office has opened an investigation to determine what these counties need to do to resolve these issues before November’s election,” he said in a statement.
However, Raffensperger blamed local officials for not adequately preparing their poll workers on how to use the new voting system.
“Obviously, the first time a new voting system is used there is going to be a learning curve, and voting in a pandemic only increased these difficulties. But every other county faced these same issues and were significantly better prepared to respond so that voters had every opportunity to vote,” he said.
With lines snaking around the corner and some voters reporting waiting more than four hours, Georgia’s primary offered a glimpse of how disastrous the November election could be.
“If we view the primary election as a dry run for November, then Georgia gets an F today,” Kristen Clarke, president and CEO of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told NBC.
She said her civil rights group is receiving calls from “voters who encountered barriers from polling sites that are not open on time, malfunctioning equipment, long lines with several hours’ wait time, insufficient backup paper ballots and more.”
Clarke noted that three-quarters of the callers identified as African American.
Georgia voters also struggled with absentee ballots, some claiming they never received theirs ahead of the election.
Democrats have been considering Georgia to be a potential swing state come fall, and former Vice President Joe Biden easily swept the Democratic primary on Tuesday, earning all 105 delegates.
Rachana Desai Martin, the national director of voter protection for Biden, told NBC every Georgian needs to be “able to safely exercise their right to vote” in the general election.
“We only have a few months left until voters around the nation head to the polls again, and efforts should begin immediately to ensure that every Georgian — and every American — is able to safely exercise their right to vote,” Martin said.
The Associated Press called the Democratic primary for Georgia’s Senate seat late Wednesday.
Thirty-three-year-old media executive Jon Ossoff won 50.5% of the vote, with 97% of precincts reporting. Though the other six candidates were far behind him, Georgia’s election law requires a candidate to receive a majority of votes in order to receive a primary nomination.
Ossoff will face off against Republican incumbent Sen. David Perdue in November.
Ossoff’s campaign manager Ellen Foster criticized Raffensperger for the election problems and demanded an apology.
“Today we have been inspired by the perseverance of Georgia’s voters in the face of rank incompetence and outrageous failures by state and county election officials,” Foster said in a statement. ”Secretary Raffensperger owes the people of Georgia an apology for Tuesday’s outrages and a full and detailed plan to protect Georgians’ voting rights in November.”